Angry residents on a millionaires’ row want the homeless camp city set up on a Hove beach removed as soon as possible.
But despite protests from locals, Brighton and Hove Council say it is powerless to move the dozen campers on - and can only ask them to leave.
Rodney Posner, the owner of The Meeting Place cafe that overlooks the encampment, has said the council has failed to address homelessness in Brighton and Hove.
He said: “I’ve had loads of neighbours come in here and complain.
“They live in expensive flats and they look outside their windows and all they see is tents and washing hanging and dogs running around.
“I’m not sure how homeless they actually are. From what I can tell, most of them have telephones. I think they take advantage.
“I went to Oxford the other day and it was so clean.
“There was no graffiti, no one in tents, it was so clean and tidy and you notice.
“There are tents pitched out all over Brighton.
“The council needs to clamp down on homelessness and they’re failing to do so.”
Other residents agreed. One said: “If police and council continue to do nothing, there will be a whole encampment on Hove Lawns by the end of the summer as they tell all their mates what a soft touch our city is.”
A Brighton and Hove council spokesperson said it was not accurate they can only ‘ask’ homeless people to leave, they can file a court order – confirming the court date has been set for Monday, September 2.
Cllr Nichole Brennan, lead for rough sleeping, said: “We are taking a balanced approach to the needs of vulnerable people and looking after the city’s open spaces.
“Camping is not allowed in the city and staying in a tent long-term is not a safe or healthy lifestyle.
“We will work with anyone living in a tent to find them a better place to stay, this may not be in the city.
“Court proceedings are underway to move on the tents at Hove Lawns, and individuals in the tents have been offered support.
“The legal powers available to the council for managing encampments are limited.
“We cannot move people on without a court order if they refuse to go when issued with notices.
“If they continue to refuse to move then we would seek court approved officers to take action.
“This legal process takes time. We have to apply for a new order for each camp set up in the city.
“We can and do take action to help people in need and move tents away from public spaces where camping is not allowed.”
St Mungo’s, a local homeless charity, offered to help the rough sleepers.
A spokesperson said: “St Mungo’s provides outreach services in Brighton and Hove to support people sleeping rough.
“We operate a welfare first approach and we regularly visit to offer help, advice and support to vulnerable people at the site.
“We work with partners locally to find long term solutions to support vulnerable rough sleepers and help them rebuild their lives.”